In Tune with Casey Cuene

This past January, two of the biggest ticket agencies merged to form what I consider the biggest threat to the concert ticket industry.

 Opinion column

 

This past January, two of the biggest ticket agencies merged to form what I consider the biggest threat to the concert ticket industry. Live Nation and Ticketmaster are now Live Nation Entertainment, the country’s largest ticket supply company.Does this new merger give the company too much power?  I certainly think so, and I know I am not alone on this opinion.

            If you have ever bought a ticket to a concert, you have probably noticed that the ticket rarely costs what the venue prices it as.  Usually when you buy tickets online, you are redirected to a website of a ticket selling company, like Ticketmaster.  Before you know it, your $20 ticket suddenly turns into $28 because of tax, facility fees, and the biggest fee of all, a “convenience” fee.So now you get to shell out more of your money, how convenient!

            Seattle band This Providence is embarking on their first headline tour this spring, which consists of 31 cities across the United States.Of those 31 shows, 14 of them are selling their tickets through Ticketmaster.The crazy thing is that 14 shows are actually surprisingly low for a national tour.I used to tour myself; most recently, I was on the Vans Warped Tour.  Every date of the Warped Tour, the tickets were sold through Ticketmaster or Live Nation.This was before the merger happened, so you could say that the ticket market wasn’t totally dominated.But this summer, it is likely that the Vans Warped Tour will sell their tickets exclusively through Live Nation Entertainment.Exclusive ticket rights to a tour of that size gives Live Nation Entertainment the option to charge as much as they want for fees because if you want to see the show, there is no other way to purchase tickets.

            But back to This Providence; I decided to compare buying tickets for their tour in three different cities.The band will be playing at The Rave, here in Milwaukee on April 24th.One ticket for that show can be purchased through ticketmaster.com for $12 and then there is a convenience charge that adds $4.35 to the ticket. This makes the grand total for the ticket $16.35.That same tour with the same bands will be playing at The Mixtape in Grand Rapids, Michigan two days earlier.Tickets for that show are being sold through a much smaller company called Fusion Shows.  Their ticket is only $10 with no additional fee.In fact their motto is “Fee free ticketing. Every show, every ticket.”Three days later, when the tour hits Denver, Colorado the tickets will be sold through Ticket Web.They have a fee, but even with them they only add up to $13.95.

            So how can two ticket companies afford to sell their tickets for two to six dollars cheaper than ticket giant Live Nation Entertainment?Obviously these smaller companies are trying to offer a more affordable ticket to the consumer.But I also think these companies are being a little more honest and realistic about fees.  Like I said, I have toured and I understand fees and why they exist.I am not trying to say they should be eliminated, but I think companies need to be a bit more honest about the fees when it is obvious that these fees aren’t just for venue expenses, but rather just to make a profit.If you want to make more, then maybe the original ticket price should just be higher.This way, the consumer won’t feel as duped when they are suddenly slapped in the face with fees, which can sometimes be as high as $15.

            According to ticketdisaster.org, 70-80 percent of concert ticket sales are done through Ticketmaster.The fact that they wanted to merge with Live Nation shows that they are out to control as much as the industry as they possibly can.Live Nation Entertainment is the bully on the playground who keeps getting more and more power.

            But these fees not only hurt those buying the tickets, but the artist as well.I spoke with Gavin Phillips of This Providence about the monster fees that are sometimes added to the price of a ticket.“Service fees can definitely hurt the attendance of a show,” said Phillips.  “Even when I was a kid going to shows, it was a deciding factor.”

            Just thinking about the merger between Ticketmaster and Live Nation has me fired up.I definitely think that they have too much control over the ticket industry.  This problem is not a lost cause and there are things that can be done to make the business fairer for both the artist and the fans attending the shows.For one, venues shouldn’t make exclusive deals with a particular ticket agency.Each show should be sold through the ticket company that best suits the needs of the venue and artist.Perhaps one company would cater to large arena sized concerts where another might be more appropriate for club shows.Or sell the tickets through multiple outlets and let competition bring fee prices down to something more appropriate.And lastly, the companies should just be realistic about how much they actually need to charge for fees and stop using fees as a means to drain a few more pennies out of you.

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